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American Savings Bank’s release of reserves helps HEI earnings rise 31%

Dave Segal

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. overcame higher operations and maintenance expenses by its utility to post a 30.7% increase in net income as subsidiary American Savings Bank benefited from the release of $12.2 million from its loan-loss reserve.

The parent company of Hawaiian Electric and the state’s third-largest bank reported today earnings of $63.9 million, or 58 cents a share, to easily beat analysts’ estimate of 47 cents. In the year-earlier quarter, HEI earned $48.9 million, or 45 cents a share.

Revenue increased 5.1% to $680.3 million from $608.9 million. Analysts were looking for revenue of $653.9 million

“HEI delivered strong consolidated financial results in the second quarter as Hawaii’s economy strengthened and as we advanced key priorities across our enterprise,” HEI President and CEO Connie Lau said in a statement. “At our utility the new performance-based regulation (PBR) framework is now fully in effect as of June 1, and we’ve begun delivering savings from our cost management program to our customers. We remain focused on cost efficiencies as we make needed investments to continue to provide safe, reliable electricity and reach Hawaii’s climate goals.”

Lau also said that as of June the utility surpassed 90,000 cumulative installed customer-sited solar systems, which comprise most of the nearly one gigawatt of solar capacity on it grid.

“And now the Battery Bonus program launched last month incentivizes customers to add storage and benefit the overall system by allowing the utility to use energy from those systems in the evening hours,” Lau said on the company’s earnings conference call with analysts.

HEI’s net income for its utility segment, which covers Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii island, slipped 1% in the quarter to $41.9 million from $42.3 million in the year-earlier period while revenue rose 12.7% to $601.9 million from $534.2 million. The drop in utility earnings reflected $6 million in higher operations and maintenance expenses consisting primarily of $3 million due to an expected increased in more generating facility overhaul, and $2 million from lower bad debt expense in the second quarter of 2020 that resulted from a Hawaii Public Utilities Commission decision allowing deferral of COVID-19 related expenses.

On July 30, American Savings reported separately that its earnings more than doubled in the second quarter as it released $12.2 million from its loan-loss reserve. The bank reported that net income rose to $30.3 million from $14 million in the year-earlier period when American Savings put into its reserve $15.1 million for potential loan losses. Reserving funds for loan losses reduces a company’s income.

“Our bank’s strong second quarter results reflect the reopened local economy and increased tourism, solid execution and our bank’s continuing efforts to work closely with its customers through the pandemic,” Lau said.

HEI also filed more information with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the company’s $5 million separation agreement with former American Savings President and CEO Rich Wacker, who resigned his position on May 7 and was replaced by Executive Vice President of Operations Ann Teranishi.

Wacker, who had served as president and CEO since 2010, asserted certain claims of discrimination, defamation and wrongful discharge, according to the filing. He had filed claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against HEI and ASB, according to a previous filing by HEI. Besides stepping down from ASB, he agreed to resign from the board of directors of ASB, the HEI Charitable Foundation, Hawaii Bankers Association, the Hawaii Business Roundtable and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council.

In addition to the $5 million separation — half of which was attributable as general damages and half as wages — HEI and ASB agreed to match charitable donations made by Wacker and his spouse, Eileen Wacker, that they have actively supported at a rate of $2 for every dollar donated for a period of two years, up to a maximum contribution by HEI and ASB of $1 million, the filing said.

Wacker and HEI/ASB also both agreed not to make disparaging remarks, and Wacker agreed to a noncompete cause that prevents him until Nov. 30, without the prior written consent of ASB/HEI, from having have any financial interest in Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank or Central Pacific Bank.

Shares of HEI rose 15 cents to $43.98 today after the earnings were announced. On Friday, HEI said it was maintaining its quarterly dividend at 34 cents a share. It will be payable Sept. 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 19.

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